How to help your child's transition from summer camp
Your child has spent hours, days, weeks and possibly even the whole summer at camp. They’ve gained independence, discovered new interests and friends, and learned a new routine.
Let’s face it: Camp life isn’t exactly like home life. So how do you help your camper retain the great habits and skills they’ve developed at camp as they readjust to life at home and school? Here are some ways:
Let them rest
They need time to process all they’ve learned and experienced. Their minds will need a break as well. Give them some time to figure it all out. Try not to plan too much during this time.
Put yourself in their shoes
How would you feel after a week or multiple weeks of camp? If they’ve been at an overnight camp, they’ve had more freedom from the rules at home - and parents to enforce those rules. If they’ve grown accustomed to a new routine and environment, try and be forgiving if they forget to do a chore or task at home, or they ask for some space.
Acknowledge their feelings
Kids might come home with new-found confidence or mixed emotions about their return from camp. It’s important for parents to recognize the good and bad feelings. Parents need to look beyond just the new skills to see what went on internally, and to listen to their children so they feel understood, says one therapist who’s worked with camp families. Watch for signs of increased anxiety or depression that might require reaching out to a professional.
Adopt a new ritual
Bringing home a camp tradition can help kids keep a camp memory alive, and allow families to share in that experience.
Nurture an interest
Encourage your child to stick with a new hobby or interest they found at camp. Find ways to support their endeavor through classes or clubs. The YMCA offers a variety of enrichment activities and sports for youth of all ages.
Reinforce good behavior, life lessons
There’s a numerous lessons kids can take from camp and apply to everyday life - things like independence, time management, and the value of teamwork and helping others. Try and help your camper remember the good behaviors they practiced at camp and keep them going at school and home.
Help them stay in touch with friends
Your child has likely made new friends, which is important to their social and emotional development. Help keep these friendships alive by scheduling play dates or play times, and meeting the parents, and giving your child the ability to connect on social media, or through email or video chat.
Families can register for next year's sleep-away camps by visiting fairviewlakeymca.org.
For more information, or to register for day and sleep-away camps at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, visit metroymcas.org. Financial assistance is available to help eligible families send their children to camp.